About Empathy and Sympathy

     An essential ingredient in satisfying relationships is each per-son's ability to accurately and objectively sense what the other per-son is thinking, feeling, and needing - now and over time. This lear-nable trait of empathy requires personal and social awareness + life experience + knowledge of human nature, + an appropriate vocabu-lary to identify and describe these senses.

    Empathy does not depend on asking the other person to report their condition, but uses perceived voice dynamics, face and body language, and behavior to guesstimate and experience the other person's state without words.

    Sympathy is similar to empathy, but is less objective - i.e. sym-pathetic persons are concerned about each other - specially in times of significant inner pain and stress. The line between empathy and sympathy can be hard to discern - and may not be important.

    Some survivors of early-childhood trauma are so psychologically wounded they cannot feel, bond, empathize, or sympathize - e.g. sociopaths. To appear normal, they must compute and pretend, ra-ther than sense, what other people may feel, think, and need. This often seems phony and promotes distrust. self-improvement Lesson 1 in this Web site is about detecting and reducing psychological wounds.

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